Follow our 2018 FloXC Countdown, where FloTrack ranks the top cross country teams in the NCAA this season, which will be LIVE on FloTrack. The No. 3 men’s spot in DIII goes to UW-La Crosse, and here's why:
Probable Top Five:
JR Josh Schraeder (8:28 3K; 14:36 5K; 20th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Thomas Schultz (14:34 5K; 30:12 10K; 29th at ’17 NCAA XC)
SR Sam Hinz (1:51 800; 3:50 1500; 98th at ’16 NCAA XC)
JR Tyler Nault (30:26 10K; 149th at ’17 NCAA XC)
JR Matt Bourland (8:43 3K; 15:10 5K)
Paul McKinley via Okemos, MI (4:10 1600; 9:09 3200; 4th at '17 MI State XC)
After recording their best NCAA finish since their national title in 2005 by finishing runner-up in 2017, Wisconsin La-Crosse can dream big this season as they once again look up to the monsters of DIII. Yes, it will be tough to improve on last season and win the national title in 2018, but the Eagles will have as good of shot as any non-North Central team with two All-Americans and four of their top seven returning this season.
The heavy hitters up top for coach Derek Stanley will be junior Josh Schraeder and senior Thomas Schultz, two top-30 finishers at NCAAs last year. Both men had nice track seasons that culminated in NCAA outdoor appearances, and Schultz was an All-American indoor in the 5k. These two will need to be top-10 guys for UWL to have any shot at a title, and fortunately for the Eagles, they have that ability.
The three men behind Schraeder and Schultz are solid; there are no clear weaknesses among the projected top five. Sam Hinz and Tyler Nault each have NCAA experience, and while they will need to produce better results at nationals for the Eagles to contend, their excellent track PRs suggest improvement could be coming this fall. Junior Matt Bourland does not have an NCAA appearance on his résumé, but his 12th place conference finish from 2017 shows he can contribute right away.
Like everyone besides that pesky team from Naperville, Illinois, Wisconsin-La Crosse will be fighting an uphill battle to claim a title in 2018. Dynasties aren’t toppled easily, but the Eagles are among a very short list of teams that have even a tiny sliver of a chance of toppling North Central.